Sunday, November 4, 2012

Now What - Old School Gaming

The Raspberry Pi is good for so much more than watching the movies and tv shows you've recorded though. I love being able to use my computer from my couch, and here are some of the things I've been up to.


Old school style. No, that doesn't mean Doom - Before that, a long way before. I was born in 1978, so grew up with text adventures (though not as many as I'd like) and point-and-click adventure games (ditto). Actually, though I played them at school occasionally, and was totally obsessed with a couple of Infocom games my mother bought me, it wasn't until I 'rediscovered' them as a teenager (in the bargain bin in game shops) that I really got into these games.  Coming back to them yet again, in my 30s, they still hold up remarkably well.

Text Adventures / Interactive Fiction

Gargoyle was easy. Just type:
sudo apt-get install gargoyle-free
into the command line. After that you will need to run it (gargoyle from the command line, or there will be a link in your your programs bar, under 'Games').

Gargoyle is a front end for text adventure formats (just like XArchiver is a front end Archiving tools). It plays:
  • TADS games (a newer format for amateur writers,
  • Z formats z3 - z8 (Infocom, also popular with the new IF (interactive fiction) breed),
  • SAGA (Scott Adams Grand Adventure)
  • Level 9
  • Magnetic Scrolls
  • A heap of others.
Chances are, though, if I haven't piqued your interest by now you should just jump down to the adventure games section (or skip this post altogether if, immersive, story based gameplay isn't your thing) :p.

There was a bit of chatter on the forums about Zork.  Yes, gargoyle will play it (it's in the z-code formate).  Now that it's been released into the wild it's easy to source too:
Just download the files from the Interactive Fiction archive.  Make sure you grab the z-machine files.  When you can either click on the name of the game you want to play, and choose to open it in Gargoyle.  I recommend ticking checkbox to always open those kinds of files in Gargoyle, so that in future all you need to do is double click on the game file.  Though opening a game from within Gargoyle is also easy.

The IF database is a good place to go for games.  You won't be able to find copies of other old favourites from the commercial realms because, while they're not still in 'print' (more's the pity) they are still covered by copyright and haven't been released by their makers.  You may be lucky like me and be able to grab a few from ebay, or source them elsewhere.  You can read details about the game on the archive, but you can't download it.

What the archive does well, though, is make the great output of 'amateur' IF writers available to play.  Though many of these writers are only 'amateur' in that they never got paid.  The four and five star games are at least as high in content, quality, and polish as the games of yore, and many of the 3 star games are also great fun (if a little lacking in polish).  Look through the lists, or do a more detailed search if you're looking for a certain type of game.  Heck, you can even start your own list, or get recommendations based on other games you like - just look down the bottom of the game description.

If you're new to all this (good on you for stretching your horizons) or it's been a while I highly recommend a play through of The Dreamhold by Andrew Plotkin.  It's an engaging game, lots of fun, and it has an 'adaptive' tutorial (ie the tutorial can read the info about how you've played the game so far and give you hints based on that.  Feel free to type 'help' at any time to get more info though.

Hopefully that's enough (too much???) to get you started.  Now, on to the pretty pictures.

I've decided to split these posts up, as I may have waffled on a little too much to include them both in the one update.

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